Blugold men’s basketball comes out on the wrong side of a nailbiter

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Josh Weix shooting at the line. The Blugolds lost in overtime against the Warhawks on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team lost a close one against UW-Whitewater on Saturday, Feb. 18 away at Kachel Gymnasium.

The game went into overtime and ended with a final score of 70-68.

The Warhawks started off strong; not three minutes into the game, they had seven points before the Blugolds made it on the scoreboard.

However, within the next two minutes, two jump shots by Chris Duff got the ball rolling for the Blugolds, followed by two free throws by Jared Schneidermann.

Eau Claire trailed close behind the Warhawks for the rest of the first half, ending it with a score of 22-30.

It was in the second half of the game that the Blugolds kicked it into gear.

Schneidermann started it up by draining a three pointer while Jack Martinek followed close after with a layup.

At the 15:11 mark, a layup by Josh Weix tied the game to 35-35. After a few minutes of back-and-forth on the court, the Blugolds finally pulled ahead when Andrew Duxbury swished two free throws.

Blugold forward, Josh Weix, said they stepped up their offensive game in the second half.

“We came out with a lot more confidence,” Weix said. “We didn’t shoot the ball at high level in the first half and we got the ball inside more which helped us out a lot.”

The teams alternated the lead eight times after that.

The Blugolds were up by three with 1:43 to go in the game when Eau Claire’s George Diekelman drained one from beyond the arc. However, a layup and free throw by the Warhawks would tie the game yet again.

Eau Claire’s Martinek made two free throws which pulled the Blugolds ahead with only a minute left to go, but Whitewater’s Chris Jones finished the second half with a layup, tying the game at 58 and sending it into overtime.

The teams continued to alternate the lead as the ball went from one net to the next. Eau Claire was up by a few points until six consecutive free throws by the Warhawks pulled them ahead about halfway into overtime.

The Blugolds remained within striking distance during the remaining two minutes but were unable to surpass the Warhawks.

Shots by Duff, Martinek and Diekelman helped bring Eau Claire within one point of the Warhawks with eight seconds to go. A free throw by Whitewater’s Derek Rongstad put pressure on the Blugolds to make a buzzer beater three pointer, but they were unsuccessful.

Weix and Diekelman lead the team, both scoring 14 points. Duff and Martinek followed with 12 and 10 points, while Schneidermann had nine points and 10 rebounds — almost getting his second double-double.

Duff said the team is hoping to bring this same level of intensity to their next game, which will be at home.

“Our game plan will pretty much stay the same,” Duff said. “We’re looking forward to Tuesday, getting back on the floor and competing again. It’s nice to play in front of the home crowd; it definitely helps.”

The No. 4 seed Blugolds will face No. 5 seed UW-Lacrosse at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Zorn Arena.